Adsorption of ciprofloxacin to functionalized nano-sized polystyrene plastic: Kinetics, thermochemistry and toxicity


Plastic debris is ubiquitous in aquatic systems and has been proven vehicles for the transport of various pollutants including trace organic compounds. Nanoplastics have large specific surface area and hydrophobic characteristics and therefore are capable of adsorbing other organic or inorganic chemicals from the environment. Antibiotics, as another class of emerging contaminants, have raised significant research concern in recent years as they pose threats to the ecosytems and human health. Nevertheless, little information is available on the adsorption behaviors of antibiotics onto nano-sized plastics. The toxicity of combined nanoplastics and antibiotics is also largely unknown. In this study, the physicochemical and thermodynamic interactions between representative nanoplastics, which containing a carboxyl functional group of polystyrene nanoplastics (PS-COOH), and typical antibiotic, i.e., ciprofloxacin (CIP) were investigated in a batch adsorption experiment. The specific thermodynamic correlation function of PS-COOH combined with CIP was obtained through isothermal titration microcalorimetry (ITC) analysis. The adsorption kinetics and isotherm of CIP on PS-COOH closely fit the pseudo-second-order kinetic model (r2 = 0.99) and Freundlich isotherm (r2 = 0.99). The ITC results showed that the adsorption reaction of PS-COOH with CIP was a spontaneous exothermic reaction. The adsorption of antibiotics on nanoplastics may aggravate the negative impacts of these two pollutants on aqueous ecosystems, and we hypothesized that would be reflected in the survival rate of model organism of Caenorhabditis elegans when exposed to this combination. This work used a mechanistic approach to unravel the adsorption behavior of antibiotics on nanoplastics and shed light on their potential impact on aquatic ecosystems.

Authors: Mihebai Yilimulati, Longfei Wang, Xiaoli Ma, Chuanwang Yang, Nuzahat Habibul
; Full Source: The Science of the total environment 2021 Jan 1;750:142370. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.142370.